Maddie Potts Memorial Field House Opens
A promise kept: Potts family opens Maddie Potts Memorial Field House
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
RICHMOND – With Sunday’s ribbon-cutting at the Maddie Potts Memorial Field House behind her, Stephanie Potts admitted that it would feel strange having finally achieved that goal.
“I think it will be, like everything else, bittersweet,” she said. “…I’m a distance runner. I’ve run marathons multiple times, and I look it at like I’ve run the 26 miles, and now, I’m just trying to get to the final .2. I can’t even anticipate what that’s going to be like.”
Stephanie and Dan Potts’s quest to build the field house at Chariho began in Sept. 2017, not long after their daughter Maddie, a Chariho athlete, suffered a fatal brain aneurysm during a soccer game.
The family formed the Maddie Potts Foundation and began raising the $700,000 they believed the building would cost. They weren’t prepared for the impacts of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has tested us more than anything in regard to the field house,” Stephanie Potts said. “I think a lot of people doubted us and though I certainly questioned us and was unsure if I could really continue at this pace that we have, every time I was kind of heading for the bottom, so to speak, something unusual would happen or someone would step up and remind me that I made a promise, to not just Maddie, but our community, and I wasn’t about to break that promise.”
In addition to delaying work on the field house, the pandemic had a devastating impact on construction costs, which soared from $750,000 to $1.2 million.
Potts said corporate sponsorships helped ease the financial crunch.
“Our cost right now is right around $1.2 million, but the value of it, because of everyone’s contributions and discounts and time and dedication is actually closer to a value of between $1.8 and $2 million,” she said.
Located next to the Chariho football field, the new field house replaces a dilapidated, unheated shack that was used as a concession stand.
Designed by architect Frank Karpowicz and built by contractor David Ducharme, the 3,000-square foot building contains locker rooms, rest rooms, and the concession stand.
The design evolved as prices skyrocketed, with one of the locker rooms and a rest room being removed from the plan. The foundation approached the three Chariho towns for financial support, asking Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton to each contribute $83,333 from the American Rescue Plan Act COVID relief funds they were receiving, since the cost overruns were a consequence of the pandemic.
Charlestown agreed to donate the funds, but Hopkinton, where some Town Council members have opposed the donation, has not contributed.
In Richmond, the Town Council initially deferred the contribution of the ARPA funds and declined to reimburse the entire $5,120 building permit fee.
The town asked Charlestown and Hopkinton to each contribute one third of the fee, which they declined to do. Richmond finally contributed the requested $83,333 in ARPA funds and reimbursed $4,698.97 to the foundation for the building permit fee.
The Field House
The first thing visitors see when they walk through the field house door is the two-story, glass “Maddie Mentality” atrium, featuring photographs, artwork and a video donated by a friend of the family.
Accommodating up to 60 people, the atrium will be used for community, athletic and school district meetings and events.
“The atrium really highlights Maddie and her life, and answers the question ‘who was Maddie Potts and why does she have a building named after her,’” Potts said. “It really tells her story in the pictures that were taken right before she died, the video that will be playing on a loop in the atrium. A local gentleman, Kevin Travers, has volunteered to construct and donate custom art cases that will be in the atrium, and that will highlight all the things that so many people have made us that also helped tell Maddie’s story.”
The field house also contains three, gender-neutral, handicap-accessible rest rooms, and a large “home” locker room for athletes with its own bathroom and a television.
“We have a separate officials’ suite that has their own changing room, their own bathroom and a separate entrance off the back of the building, because we found it important for the officials to have their own space to get away from fans and athletes before and during games. And the officials of the state have been incredibly supportive and actually changed the name of their sportsmanship award to the ‘Maddie Potts Sportsmanship award’.”
The new concession stand is located on the other side of the atrium. Revenue from the stand, which is operated by the Chariho Sports Boosters, supports the school district’s athletic teams.
“It not only opens to the stadium side but it now opens to the baseball field side and also opens to the atrium, so it increases potential Booster revenue, because they can open for a lot more games and events,” Potts said.
The field house also has an athletic training room with its own entrance off the field.
The foundation is still designing the memorial benches which will be placed outside, commemorating the late Chariho Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci, Keith Frost, Hallie Linacre and Allie Nelson.
Fundraising will continue for equipment for the concession stand.